Yankees: Selecting the ideal Opening Day lineup

Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The ideal Yankees lineup: 1-3

26

DJ LeMahieu 2B

New York Yankees
New York Yankees /

Batting First

Gone is the prototypical leadoff hitter who thrives on seeing pitches and stealing bases. Modern leadoff hitters have power, a keen eye, and the ability to start and finish rallies, a combination which is frustrating for opposing pitchers to face out of the gate. In the Bronx, an ideal leadoff candidate could be found at second base, in 31-year-old DJ LeMahieu.

LeMahieu was nothing short of spectacular last season and following a year which saw him post a .327/.375/.893 slash line, he is a no-brainer for the first spot in the order. Couple his tendency to get on base with his low strikeout rate of 13.7%, he is an ideal top of the order guy.

The second basemen proved to be more than just a contact hitter last year, clobbering 26 home runs and driving in 102 runs. His ability to drive in runners who are in scoring position is top-notch as well. In 2019 he hit .389 and had 73 RBIs with runners in scoring position, as well as bat .346 with two outs in an inning. LeMahieu is the perfect guy to cap off the bottom of the order rally that the Yankees have become accustomed too.

99

Aaron Judge RF

New York Yankees
New York Yankees /

Batting Second

Up next is big Aaron Judge, the Yankees phenomenal young right-fielder. Despite missing several games last season to injury, Judge still impressed with a .272 average and .921 OPS. In addition to those numbers, the California native smashed 27 home runs while driving in 55 RBIs in just 102 games.

The 6’7 right-fielder spent 99 games in the two-hole in 2019, and his familiarity with that role, especially hitting behind LeMahieu. According to FanGraphs, Judge has a walk rate of 14.3 % and a hard-hit percentage of 53.8, making him a threat to do damage at any given moment.

The only concern with Judge is his inability to remain healthy, but when he is on the field, the slugger possesses one of the most complete skill sets in all of baseball. With LeMahieu’s ability to get on base and Judge’s ability to go deep, the Yankees have arguably the best one-two punch in baseball.

24

Gary  Sanchez C

New York Yankees
New York Yankees /

Batting Third

Gary Sanchez has earned both praise and jeers from the Bronx faithful over his young career, as the catcher has consistently proven that his hot and cold streaks will forever remain a part of his game. Yet the power he possesses does make him a threat at the plate at all times, and when he gets a pitch in his wheelhouse it travels a long long way.

In order to maximize those pitches, why not sandwich him between two All-Stars in Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, giving Sanchez an abundance of pitches he could handle. This strategy is nothing new, as in 2019 Sanchez had his best at-bats from that three-spot, hitting .270 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs.

If you follow Sanchez on social media you have seen several workout videos with him saying he will be ready for the season, whenever that may be. If the Dominican Republic native comes into the season with a chip on his shoulder and a clean slate, he could be in store for a huge season batting behind Judge in the third spot.